In the tale that Patricia Ramírez told on Tuesday, outside the doors of Almería cathedral, as she stood next to the white coffin of her eight-year-old son, the witch no longer existed. Gabriel Cruz was, according to her story, “playing with the fishes.”
It was one more metaphor used by a woman who, in recent days, has given a number of lessons in humanity to the rest of Spain. Minutes before burying the boy, who was allegedly killed by his father’s girlfriend, Ramírez spoke of all the good people in the world, and mentioned the sunflowers in a song by Rozalén, the last tune that Gabriel would listen to regularly before his death.
No one could hurt my son, because he’s good, he’s kind
Ramírez, described as “a very affectionate woman, able to generate enthusiasm and joy around her, much loved by all of the runners that she encouraged in the organized races where she would commentate,” was able to overcome the devastation of losing a child. “On the fourth day after Gabriel went missing, the real mother emerged,” explain police sources who were closest to the family. “She took control of the situation and took charge.”
Since her son disappeared on February 27, all of the attention has been on her. We saw her wracked with pain in those early moments of confusion. “No one could hurt my son, because he’s good, he’s kind,” she managed to say, between sobs, wrapped in her son’s turquoise scarf, on which she could still smell his scent. She was carrying a photo of the boy, who was smiling. A smile that captivated Spain. And she was a mother who amazed an entire country.
In the first days of the search for Gabriel, the authorities couldn’t take a statement from her. “She would unravel,” they explain.
Patricia, who has been separated from Gabriel’s father, Ángel Cruz, for the last six years, first had to accept the blow that someone could have taken her son. “He was everything to her, her main passion was her son,” her friends explain. “She used to take him once a month on educational field trips with the parents of other children, so they could learn things like the art of fishing and things like that.”
A technician in the sports department at the Almería provincial authority, Patricia embodied the most human of values. She showed herself to be understanding, compassionate and generous before the potential captors of her child. “We will not hold a grudge, just leave him wherever he can fend for himself, anywhere at all,” she said, avoiding begging but resorting to something even more profound: humanity.
With these messages, sent out via the media, she reached everyone, evoking compassion in anyone who heard her. But not in Ana Julia Quezada, her ex-husband’s partner, who was found on Sunday to be moving the body of Gabriel in her car, and has since confessed to killing him. She was completely impervious to all of the human aspects extolled by Patricia.
She took control of the situation and took charge
That contrast, between good and evil, between kindness and wickedness, has touched thousands of people and generated a wave of solidarity with Patricia and her family. One of the latest expressions of this has been the announcement that Unión Deportiva de Almería, the city’s soccer club, would be wearing a blue fish on its jerseys until the end of the season.
Fishes have become a symbol of Gabriel Cruz ever since his mother explained that his nickname in the family was “little fish,” given his passion for the marine world.
That gave rise to a whole shoal of fish, with people taking to the streets with the symbol first to demand his return, and then after Sunday, to demand justice.
Over the 12 days that the search for Gabriel lasted, we have seen a mother trying everything to get him back, in particular by softening the heard of his captor. We have seen a woman determined to achieve this and hanging on to even the slimmest of hopes, capable of consoling those who were on the verge of collapse. We’ve seen her hugging volunteers in the search, touching the face of the clearly moved interior minister, engaging with journalists who were filming her. She became the commentator of her own race, in which the challenge of finding Gabriel alive lay at the finish line. If only this had been a fable…
English version by Simon Hunter.